When I was in junior high, I was a member of an organization known as the Camp Fire Girls. If you are not familiar, it is very similar to the Girl Scouts. (In fact, why the redundancy is needed is not known to me, but there it is.) Being Camp Fire Girls, we, not surprisingly, had to go camping at least once. Close to four decades later the horror of that night is fresh and clear in my mind.
It didn’t start out too badly – we had to build individual campfires from twigs and hitting rocks together. It’s not as easy as it sounds, and if you think it sounds hard, you’re right. My on-again, off-again best friend at the time was convinced that I stepped in her embryonic fire deliberately and didn’t speak to me for weeks afterward. I needed the leader to “assist” (read: matches) so we could be finished with that part of the day and eat dinner. Humiliating.
The real agony didn’t start till dark, when the temperature dropped to about 50 degrees and the rain came. I don’t mean a little rain, I mean that steady downpour that is so good for lawns and flowers, but so bad for Camp Fire Girls. Especially ones in a cheap leaky tent. Our sleeping bags were soaked within half an hour. We shivered and shook and tried telling ghost stories and singing songs, but mostly just hoped for morning. By morning, BTW, I had a raging fever and a case of strep throat. (Just wondering, as an adult, what was that leader thinking? We weren’t prisoners there….)
New story – When I was in my early twenties, I had the incredible privilege to visit a true 19th century mansion that was being restored to its glory. The kitchen (more square footage than my home’s ground floor) was warm and inviting, with a huge open hearth and bay window. I believe I remember 12 bedrooms with wonderful details like built-in vanities and private baths with clawfoot tubs. Among dozens of rooms, there was a huge floor-to-ceiling library with the rolling ladder like in a movie, a leaded glass entrance that I think was either 30 or 40 feet high (pardon if some details are fuzzy) and an entire ballroom. Seriously. A ballroom, just for dancing. Huge and beautiful and ornate like an old theater.
Now, if someone offered me that house, paid up, completely refurbed, perfect condition, no utility bills…. or the leaky tent… well, it’s not much of a choice!
I have had people ask me, “How can God be so unfair, to let a baby die?” or “…to allow a disaster where so many people are killed?” We just don’t get it sometimes because we get so stuck on what we can see. To us death is the ultimate BAD thing. But from God’s perspective, the real perspective of Truth, death is escaping that leaky cold tent and finally moving into our mansion. The ones who go early – well, maybe they are like the people I saw at MGM when Sam and I went on our vacation a few years ago, who had the special tickets. They got to skip the long, hot, boring lines and go straight to the good stuff.
We know that our body—the tent we live in here on earth—will be destroyed. But when that happens, God will have a house for us. It will not be a house made by human hands; instead, it will be a home in heaven that will last forever. But now we groan in this tent. We want God to give us our heavenly home, because it will clothe us so we will not be naked. While we live in this body, we have burdens, and we groan. We do not want to be naked, but we want to be clothed with our heavenly home. Then this body that dies will be fully covered with life. This is what God made us for, and he has given us the Spirit to be a guarantee for this new life. 2 Corinthians 5:1-5